Wednesday, June 30, 2004

My Love Affair With News

I've been a news junkie in the past. However, I found myself recently eschewing all things newsworthy. In the last few days I've also discovered a few other of my friends also boycotting news. This can only mean that the American zeitgeist is seeing a growing number of people who have actually grown news weary. (Can a German word properly be used to describe the American ... zeit ... geist?) I'd love to hear from people who are boycotting the news, and why. As for me, I just got utterly exhausted by the constant debate within our very polarized country. The news and I will reconcile eventually, but not just yet. I'm still mad.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I'm an evil non-blogger

The brain, it appears, has entered a state of suspended animation. Awhile ago, about the time Nick Berg was rendered bereft of his head, I buried my head in the sand regarding the news. What with the Prison scandal rendering the "we're the good guys" argument completely impotent, the conversation seemed pretty much over. So what else is there to talk about? Oh yeah ... Rembrandt! The above is one of my favorite pictures. I have a print of it hanging in my office at work. This portrait was painted by Rembrandt, and it is presumed to be of his son. Rembrandt obviously had hope. The lad here has that mischevious yet loveable look that motivates parents--or anyone who loves kids--to be better people. It's one of those motivations that keep the wheels of progress moving. Kids haven't changed much since 1645. This kid looks like he's could start playing with a Game Boy Advanced at any moment. For some odd reason the painting give me hope. Have a great day all ye who blog!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Our Ongoing Fight With Racism

Most people think they are not a racist. I think I'm not a racist. I also think that all people--to a degree--still have the roots of racism in their blood. I believe this because the roots of racism come from "tribalism" which, I believe, was a genetically favorable trait. Somewhere along the way our genes learned that if you see some primate from another tribe, they were dangerous. In those days, this was true. After all, your tribe competed with them for food, and would even steal food from their camp, etc. Those days are long gone, and racism is no longer genetically useful ... yet its influence on our behavior lives on. On this topic, however, I'm somewhat of an optimist. I truly believe that the problem of racism in the U.S. is improving. It is by no means gone, but it is improving. While there are still many covert signals that send racist messages to our children, any overt messages are becoming highly unacceptible. A covert message is less powerful than an overt one, and so I believe today's children will grow up with a slightly less racist nature than their parents, and their children will get even fewer of these signals, etc. But there's one thing that's sticking in my craw. Let me give three examples: 1. I'm at a neighbor's party, we're all sitting around chatting. One older black lady (charming as can be) is sitting at our table. At some point in the conversation we are being goofy and rattling off as many "Jim's" as we can. Jim Croche, Jim Jarmusch, Jim McNeil, and *poof* out it came from my mouth. I said "Jim Crowe." The black lady acted as if nothing happened (to her credit--because nothing HAD happened). All of my white friends at the table, however, looked at me like I'd swallowed a live kitten. 2. I'm eating dinner with some friends at a nice restaurant in Sedona, Arizona. Somewhere in the conversation, I made a semi-loud joke saying "fight the powah!" It was completely a non-racial reference, but the term has roots with black people. A black woman at another table gave me a look that made me feel uncomfortable for using the phrase. 3. I'm eating lunch with some friends (why do my faux pas always happen when eating. Hmm ... food for thought), and one of my friends and I got into a very detailed conversation about black people in America. Neither one of us are racists, and none of our statements were racist. We were just talking about geo-political differences, and how I believed that white people had a huge financial head start over black people in America because ... well ... we assumed we owned most of the black people that lived here 150 years ago. During that time, white people have handed down their wealth while black people have had to build it from scratch, etc. So it what we were saying shouldn't have been offensive. But a third friend at our table asked for us to change the topic because there was a little black girl at the table next to us. OK, fine. I wasn't offended by my friend who asked us to change the topic because I understand what the status quo is. The status quo is "shhhhh ... don't talk about it." And this is the thing that is sticking in my craw. Do we continue to make improvements in our racial tendencies by inhibiting any speech that "might possibly" be miscontrued as racist? Do we pretend that black people have the same color skin as we do? In all three of these cases, words were spoken that were not intended to be racially offensive, but people either took them out of context and assumed them to be racist, or assumed that other people could take them out of context. Should we assume that people are racists? Or should we assume that people are not racists? I think that the very best signal that we can send to our children is that people are, in general, not racist. We should teach children to judge a man not by words that can be taken out of context, but by the content of his character. (Apologies to MLK.) So let's talk about it. Talking about things can sometimes make them better. Let's not make Jim Crowe a taboo phrase because it could be taken out of context. Jim Crowe laws sucked, okay? Doesn't everyone know that? And please oh please, can white people appropriate phrases that originated in black culture into their vocabularies? Doesn't that sound like a step in the right direction?

Friday, June 11, 2004

I'm not dead, yet!

Sorry everyone. I received a quasi-promotion (more responsibility, same pay) and it's literally taking 100% of my cranial schedule. However, here is something that made me smile: WATERBURY, Conn. - A food fight that started with fruit cup turned into a mealtime melee, serving up a full plate of arrests and injuries. Seven seventh-graders were arrested after a spat in a middle school cafeteria left two teachers and a detective with injuries Wednesday. The incident began at West Side Middle School after a girl dumped a fruit cup over a boy's head, police said. The two started fighting, then other students joined in, some jumping on tables and throwing food, police said. "What was described as a riot situation developed in the cafeteria," Sgt. Christopher Corbett said. A detective and two teachers suffered minor injuries breaking up the melee. Three girls and fours boys ranging in age from 12 to 14 were arrested on charges including breach of peace, assault and inciting a riot. All seven were released to their parents after promising to appear in juvenile court. _________________________ All these kids were too young to remember "Animal House" but old enough to remember Columbine. They used to say that life imitates art. Then they said that life imitates the news. Now it looks as if life is imitating art, as it should. All is well in Waterbury Connecticut. Now back to work!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Thank you, Cornville!

I'm a city boy, but went to Arizona for the long weekend. My girlfriend and I were heading out to visit some of her friends in a place called "Cornville." Yes ... it is as small, rural, out-of-the-way, and in the middle of fucking nowhere as it sounds. Dirt roads, goats, and only the sound of the birds and the wind. As it happens, we were going to a rather large party. We pulled up and I noticed that there was a live band in the front yard. Being from Los Angeles, I had an arrogant thought. This band is probably going to be interesting. I figured that since this was "Cornville" that the band would not be sophisticated, and that the listeners would all be clapping on one and three instead of two and four, etc. Well bust my buttons. I was very wrong, and I'm glad. The band was called "Cold December", and they kicked ass! In a way, I think the fact that they *weren't* in Los Angeles (or some other big city), that made them good. So many big city bands are trying to "make it". They have the attitude that they are geniuses, refuse to be categorized into any genre of music, and if you tell them they sound like so-and-so, they break down into tears. The problem is ... if you think you're a genius then you think that your shit don't stank, and confuse your shit with something really really brilliant. "Cold December" didn't have that attitude. These guys just worked hard to be good, and played in "Cornville" for one reason, well okay ... two reasons. They played because they love the music. And also for a few bucks and some free beer. I was absolutely transfixed by their version of "Knock Knock Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (a' la Dylan, not Axl Rose thank god). So I learned something. Big city bands suck. Give me a back-woods, home town, music-lovin' band any time!

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